You’ll hear talk of the ranch from me. I can’t escape it. That’s how it is with things indelible. They become a part of you and never leave you. Rancho el Camino is like that.
The ranch was a God-calling. One of those rare moments when you know He is speaking directly to you and there is no going back. Only forward. Into something entirely unknown. Radical. Without borders. You move forward because in your heart you know that, with Him, you are in the best place you can be no matter how scary it looks.
But how it started—before it was a calling, before we sold everything we had and packed up our van and five kids to drive across the border—before all that, it was just Him and me in a cement dorm. A sacred meeting I’ll never forget.
We were on a short-term trip to Mexico. My husband, Peter, myself, and a team of youth group kids from NJ. It was July. And it was hot. I mean really hot. Tip the scales hot with 100 percent humidity. I was seven months pregnant with my youngest and fortunate to wear medical stockings that take hours to get into on a dry day. I was an emotional wreck even before the fever hit.
Our team got ready for the morning—a full day of evangelism in a mountain village with people I didn’t know, a language I didn’t speak, food I couldn’t eat, and fly-ridden outhouses I shouldn’t use. When the man in charge heard me tell Peter I couldn’t go—more because of the fever than the outhouses—the man said, “Buck up. Get out there. No one stays behind.”
I cried on my husband’s shoulder until I got to stay behind.
So, there I sat. Alone. Tired. Hot. In a cement dorm room with bugs as big as my fists. The team gone and no one to talk to. Feeling quite pitiful. Telling God how wrong He was to bring me there. How I wasn’t a missionary. How I wasn’t an evangelist. How I didn’t like being in foreign countries, or even people that much. How I was sick and pregnant, and couldn’t He see how miserable I was?
In that room I wrestled with my failures and my inadequacies. As a wife, and mother, and even deeper, as a believer. How will I ever be used by God? When everyone else was so excited to be serving, and I didn’t even want to be there. My husband lived for those moments. In fact, he was made for them. God could use him, I knew that. But me? How could I call myself a Christian when I felt so spiritually weak? When I’d rather hide. When I’d rather be alone.
It was in that dorm, in that moment, God gave me the scripture that He would later use to call us to full-time missions in Mexico—ten amazing years in the desert to develop a ranch for kids. To use my love for horses to reach thousands. But I couldn’t see it then. Only how miserable I was. How ill-equipped and disqualified to make any kind of impact.
But the Lord gave me something else that day too. Something sweet and transcending. He spoke gently to my heart. To my turmoil inside.
He said: Child, I am not calling you to be someone you are not. I did not make a mistake when I knit you together. You may never be an evangelist. You may never be comfortable in a crowd. Or in a strange land. But you are uniquely you, with your own gifts I have given you. Not to be altered or changed by what others think you should be. Nor by your own guilt or judgement. Your equipping ground is to grow closer to Me. And through that, you will know who you are and who I made you to be.
You mean, You will use my passions and gifts? Those things already a part of who I am? For Your glory?
The fishes and the loaves. My favorite Bible story. Many of us know it. A multitude needed to be fed—five thousand men. Not including all the women and children. The disciples found one boy willing to give up his lunch—two small fish and five loaves of bread.
But the disciples said, “What are these for so many people?”
Who am I to make an impact when all I have is this?
What the boy had in his sack was only enough to feed himself. That’s it. But in the hands of Jesus, the small offering became an abundance. It impacted thousands.
The boy could have held onto his lunch, guarded it, kept it secret to make sure he didn’t go hungry. He would have walked away with a good sermon and a full belly. But he would have missed the miracle. He would have never known what happens when his meager offering is placed in the hands of the Master.
That’s the thing. You and I can labor and strain and strive, and at the end of the day we’ll have enough to feed ourselves—maybe. And we don’t step out because our gifts and talents seem insignificant. Inadequate, with no true purpose or value. Not like that other guy, the one with the great platform and leadership skills. That disciple who really knew Jesus. He has what it takes.
Remember, the Lord didn’t create you to be like that guy or that girl. You are NOT your coworker. Or your friend. Or the neighbor with the list of accolades. NOT the one who looks like they have it all together or the one who seems to juggle everything with perfection.
You are you. Uniquely shaped for your own Kingdom purpose. It’s not about what you lack, but what you already have.
And no matter how scary it looks, step into it. Release it. Because in your hands—your very own hands—you hold exactly what He needs to make miracles happen!
-Author and Novelist
-President of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) NY/NJ Chapter
-Co-Founder of Rancho el Camino, La Paz, Mexico
-Pastor’s wife and Mom of five amazing teenagers and young adults
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